We Ring the Bell 2019

SPO CHAI India using the Welcome to School Case

In the past months almost every single SPO has received a so called Welcome to School Case from the Liliane Foundation. The case provides all kind of playful investigation materials. Children dress up as ‘inclusive education-inspectors’ and perform an extensive inquiry in their school. After examination they not only conclude that most schools are poorly facilitated but also see, hear and feel  with their own senses how it must be for a child with a disability to be obstructed almost everywhere. The one SPO who has both used the case and documented the process of doing so very well, is our SPO in the South of India: CHAI. In this article we have interviewed the enthusiastic senior programme manager Mr. Vishal Gupta on how he and his class have perceived working with the case.


With more than 250.000 students and almost 1250 schools participating in We Ring The Bell 2019 on March 13th, the potential of successful lobby and advocacy trajectories and effective communication is enormous. Many SPO’s have already started with very promising initiatives to tackle the problems that prevent inclusive education becoming an every-day reality. In this regard it is great to read all the different stories of change on the Platform Connect.

In the past months almost every single SPO has received a so called Welcome to School Case from the Liliane Foundation. This case is designed by a team of professional didactics, with the idea to creatively engage school children in the process of producing inclusive schools for children with a disability. The case provides all kind of playful investigation material. Children dress up as ‘inclusive education-inspectors’ and perform an extensive inquiry in their school. They not only conclude that most schools are poorly facilitated but also see, hear and feel with their own senses how it must be for a child with a disability to be obstructed almost everywhere.

The one SPO who has both used the case and documented the process of doing so very well, is our highly respected SPO in the South of India: the Catholic Health Association of India (CHAI). As many of you may have already seen on Platform Connect, CHAI has produced an inspirational video of how they have joyfully engaged with the children using the Welcome to School Case on March 13th2019. You can see the video here.

For all of you who have not used the case yet and for the ones who want to extend its success and use it again, we asked Mr. Vishal Gupta, senior programme manager of CHAI what he enjoyed most about working with the Welcome to School Case on March 13th:

  1. How did you organize the teachers and students to use the different assignments, as we can see in the video?
    We selected the children those who volunteered willingly and we called on some of the children who were scared/feeling shy to come in front to give them a chance to have fun and learn. The white coat was an attraction to the children.Regarding the teachers, we couldn’t have any selection due to the exam & election duties but those who were present, participated happily in Welcome to School Case.
     
  2. How was the general response from the students and teachers?
    The students were very excited and happy in participating in the Welcome to School Case. The response from the students was positive and welcoming.The response of the teachers was also positive and willing to support this cause. They are happy if all children including children with disabilities come to school every day. However, the teachers have expressed that there are difficulties in inclusion education because there is a plenty of workload on one teacher and the number of students are more.
     
  3. Was it clear to you from the instructions how to use it? If not, what were the parts that caused difficulties?
    For me, the instructions are given very clearly in the welcome to school case. But only task 9 under ‘do the experiment’, we could add one more action point like: holding the books/carrying the bag of children with disabilities from home to school and back/feeding food at the school etc. as the child does not have any arms. And then we could add under the questions for you to answer;
    Child 2: How do you feel when you are helping your classmate/friend?
    Child 3: What would you wish/want attention from others if you were not to have any arms?
     
  4. Did it raise awareness among the student about the necessity to adjust the school for children with a disability?
    Yes, it did. The students are now aware about what are the difficulties for the children with disabilities when they come to school and which is necessary to adjust for the children with disabilities. The mindset and the behavioral change also took place among them. The students without a disability said that they will not call the children with disabilities with nicknames, which they have been doing so far, but acknowledge them as they are and do whatever assistance required for them with their consent.
     
  5. Do you have a quote from a student or a teacher (or you) where they feel or act as an ambassador for the inclusion for disabled children in schools?
    Geetanjali (student) said, “I will make friendship with children with disabilities in the school and in my village”.
     
  6. What have been the results/plans/actions of working with the welcome to school case?
    The results of the welcome to school case is yet to be achieved but the plan of actions have been made by the partner organization. The PO is taking the lead to advocacy and get the resources from the government and make the necessary adjustments in the school. This may take a bit long time as it is not easy to avail the government resources immediately. But they are trying to advocate so that it may come in their agenda and in the budget of 2020.
     
  7. How would you use the welcome to school case more often and what would you recommend to other SPO’s about this case?
    We would use this welcome to school case 8-10 times in a year as it is a very good initiative to infuse the need of inclusive education in the regular school. We could do this at different pockets like schools at district level, block level and village level.I would recommend this welcome school case to other SPO’s as it is very clearly instructed and easy to execute with a lot of fun with children. However, more than this the welcome to school case, there has to be a plan of action on how to promote inclusive education in the regular government schools. We need to take note of the ‘4 A’s’ (Accessibility, Acceptance, Availability and Adaptation), link every child with the regular government school and then focus on quality of education.
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